02. Changüí

MEANING: Takes an early morning stroll down a bustling residential street in Havana. Kids play sidewalk games, adults play dominoes and birds fly around the listener while an ensemble plays changüí. The city is waking up.
NEIGHBORHOOD: El Vedado (La Habana)

Aleigh, Gerardo, Raul, and Boris film a street scene from Laura's penthouse suite rooftop.

FICTION: This is the neighborhood where the Cuban protagonist, Ana, lives and practices medicine.  She sees her childhood friend Alejandro on her way to work.

INFLUENCES: Buena Vista Social Club, Septeto Habanero, Orquesta Revé, Lee “Scratch” Perry

OTHER: Changüí is Cuba’s oldest musical fusion of Spanish guitar and West African drumming.

Crew on street during film shoot

DOWNLOAD: The song can be found on Bandcamp or iTunes.

Producer Yannis plays guitar

Gaffer Rafael releases pigeons to fly in front of the camera.


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01. LIBERACION X (Yemayá)

MEANING:  The dobro, an American folk guitar, plays a Southwestern fingerstyle accompaniment to a batá toque for Yemayá.  An American French horn plays a longing melody that rings throughout Havana.  A Cuban plays along on a drumset, an African-American instrument that was prohibited in Cuba throughout the 60s.  This song is a dance for Yemayá, the Orisha of the sea.

Composer Sage Lewis with guitarist Andrew Auble in Val Verde, California

MUSICIANS:  Composed by Sage Lewis.  Featuring Andrew Auble on dobro, Jody Hurt on French Horn, Reinier Mendoza on drumset, and Yasser Carrazana Amaya, Omar Fariñas, and Luís Barbaro Rodriguez on batá drums.

Reinier Mendoza on drumset

Luís Barbaro Rodriguez, Yasser Carrazana Amaya, and Omar Fariñas record batá drums at ICAIC Studios in Havana

NEIGHBORHOOD: Flying above the rooftops of Havana

Theatre Director Chi-wang Yang does a handstand on rooftop while film crew watches. Photo by Adrianne Koteen.

Ana (Yipsia Torres Cueva) and "Amante" (Armando McClain) meet in the Theater of the Sea. Photo by Adrianne Koteen.

FICTION:   Theme song of The Closest Farthest Away directed by Chi-wang Yang.  Yemayá magically brings all the characters to her “Theater of the Sea,” a place beyond the territorial waters of any political system and the only place where Cuban and American performers can share a stage.

INFLUENCES:  Bob BrozmanOlivier Messiaen, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas, Joseph Haydn.

OTHER:  The title was inspired by a series of paintings entitled “Liberación 1-10” by Cuban artist Darwin Estacio.

LIBERACION 8, by Cuban artist Darwin Estacio

DOWNLOAD: The song can be found on Bandcamp or iTunes.

Proceeds go to the artists.

Andrew's dobro

Nebuchadnezzar, art by Andrew Auble

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NOW AVAILABLE on Bandcamp and the iTunes Store!


EXPERIMENTAL CUBAN-AMERICAN: Groundbreaking new works of orchestral, folkloric, and popular music forms. Nine rare cross-genre compositions fuse diverse modern musical aesthetics emerging throughout Cuba and the United States.

MUSICIANS:  This album was composed, produced and recorded throughout multiple trips between Havana and Los Angeles over the past six years.  Including a total of 93 musicians from Cuba and California’s most current contemporary music scenes.  Each song was a collaboration.

INFLUENCES:  Diverse contemporary music styles practiced in Cuba and the United States such as  contemporary classicalchangüítimbabatánueva trovaindie pop, and hip hop.

MEANING:    Locates a meaningful and common language between two societies divided across 90 miles and 50 years of political and economic warfare.

NEIGHBORHOOD:  A musical cartography project that takes place in nine neighborhoods throughout two cities, Havana and Los Angeles.

Landmarks throughout Los Angeles where POR AMOR the album was created.

Landmarks throughout Havana where POR AMOR the album was made

FICTION:  It’s the soundtrack to the theatre-film production The Closest Farthest Away, directed by Chi-wang Yang.

The final song, “far away,” is an independent performance of multi-media concert music that world premiered last night at Santa Monica’s Broad Stage.  Here’s an image from the performance:

Artistic Director Luke McEndarfer leads the National Children's Chorus with a video projection of Cuba's choir Coro Diminuto at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.

As an independent release by Project Por Amor, all proceeds go directly to the artists.  BUY NOW!

For the next 9 weeks, I will be doing a weekly blog entry about the making of each song including stories, maps, videos, and photography.  Stay tuned…

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Photo by Adrianne Koteen

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